Denmark went into the most perfect campaign in World Cup qualifying on Saturday and England Towards winning your group also got easier.
Victories for Scotland, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine brought them closer to at least a place in the playoffs with the final tournament in Qatar the following year.
Cristiano Ronaldo did not even play in Saturday’s World Cup schedule, yet he set a men’s international football record and extended another game against the hosts of the 2022 tournament.
In his European record 181st game for Portugal _ Breaking a tie with his former Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos’s Spain mark _ Ronaldo scored his 112th goal to extend his men’s world record.
Take a look at the action of six of the 10 European qualifying groups in action on Saturday.
Denmark put together the world’s best series of qualifying results as leaders of the fledgling group while Scotland and Israel served up the most dramatic games on Saturday.
Danes’ 4–0 win in Moldova was their seventh consecutive victory with no goals and a European-best of 26 goals.
A day after making the Ballon d’Or nomination list, defender and captain Simon Kajar’s goal from the penalty spot was one of four in the 21st first half at Chiineau.
Denmark could cement its place in Qatar by defeating Austria in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
Scotland beat Israel 3–2 in a tense game with control of second place in Group _ and a playoff berth in March _.
Scotland went down twice, a penalty saved in the first half, a lengthy video review in the second half reversing a previously disallowed goal, then missing a clear opportunity in the 89th.
Four minutes into stoppage time, Manchester United’s Scott McTominay tied the ball over the goal-line after a corner to cheer a sold-out Hampden Park.
Scotland play the next Tuesday in the Faroe Islands, having lost 2–0 to Austria on Saturday. Although Austria finished fourth, it is likely to advance to the 12-team playoffs, achieving one of the two places awarded to teams based on the Nations League group standings last year.
England suffered another 5–0 defeat in Andorra, although surprisingly still only four points away from second-placed Albania.
Five different players scored against 156th-ranked Andorrans: Ben Chilwell and Bukayo Saka in the first half and Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prause and Jack Grealish in the second.
The match was handled by an all-female team of match officials, led by Ukrainian referee Katerina Monjul, one day after a fire damaged a stand at the small Estadi Nacional.
Hungary was dominant in the European Championship in June, though again lost 1–0 at home to Albania at an empty Puskas stadium in Budapest. It was a punishment for racist behavior by fans when he toured England last month.
A crowd of more than 56,000 flocked to the national stadium in Warsaw to watch Poland’s 5-0 win over San Marino, and traveled to face Albania on Tuesday.
While Italy is hosting the Nations League final this week, Switzerland beat Northern Ireland 2-0 to close the gap to three points.
The Irish came to Geneva hoping to put pressure on the Swiss, but the game turned against them when defender Jamal Lewis was sent off in the 37th.
Switzerland can equalize Italy with a win in Lithuania on Tuesday and need a big win.
The main game is 12 November when Italy hosts Switzerland. A draw could also be a good fit for the Italians, whose goal difference is currently six better than the Swiss, who missed several scoring opportunities on Saturday.
Serbia moved up to the top spot after winning 1–0 in Luxembourg and playing one point more than Portugal.
Ireland won 3–0 in Azerbaijan, and in the Group of Five nations where the odd team plays Qatar in a friendly match, Portugal took their turn. Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the first half in a 3-0 win.
Portugal will host Serbia on 14 November in the probable group decider.
Swedish forward Alexander Isaac claimed the best goal on Saturday in a 3-0 home win over Kosovo.
The Real Sociedad striker collected a pass on the left wing, put the ball through a challenger’s legs, then shot from 25 meters (yards) into the top corner.
Sweden is one point behind group leader Spain _ currently also in Nations League action _ and could go on top on Tuesday when they tour Greece. Greece scored two goals in the 90th minute to register a 2-0 win over Georgia on Saturday.
Spain will host Sweden in the final round on 14 November.
In the group led by France, Ukraine finished second with the first win, 2–1 in Finland after five consecutive draws.
Bosnia-Herzegovina have been in contention since November 2019 with their first competitive 2–0 win over Kazakhstan.